Death stalks a classical music festival in a remote Wisconsin venue.
Forty years ago, Dixan I, the first Viola da Gamba Music Festival, was spoiled by the sudden, terrible death of a young woman in childbirth. When gambist Franz Acker’s wife, Heike, went into premature labor, a storm prevented her evacuation from remote Washington Island, the very tip of the Door County peninsula. Shortly after Heike’s death, Acker received a second blow: His 16th-century viola da gamba, the prized yellow viol fashioned by master luthier Augusto Fiorrelli, disappeared. Now, four decades later, Dixan V is at risk of being disrupted by the death of another young woman whose lifeless body is discovered on the ferry Ledstjarna by its captain, Oskar Norling. This time, though, the death is clearly no accident. Medical examiner Emma Pardy is sure that the woman’s been poisoned, although what the poison was and how it was administered remain questions as mysterious as the victim’s identity. Finding out who she is and how she died is the responsibility of Dave Cubiak (Death in Cold Water, 2016, etc.), who gave up his badge in Chicago to become sheriff of Door County. Although distracted by the news of his second wife Cate’s unexpected pregnancy, Cubiak jumps in feet first. Reaching out to the few Dixan V stars who were around back at Dixan I, including wealthy, elusive George Peter Payette and his assistant, Richard Mayes, Cubiak searches for the slender threads that connect his current corpse to a 40-year-old tragedy.
Music lovers will join outdoor enthusiasts in welcoming Skalka’s third Door County entry.